"HOW BEAUTEOUS MANKIND IS! O BRAVE NEW WORLD, THAT HAS SUCH PEOPLE IN'T!": SHAKESPEARE'S LAST PLAY THE TEMPEST WITH THE TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA, EXTRACTED FROM THE THIRD FOLIO, 1664, HANDSOMELY BOUND
SHAKESPEARE. The Tempest. WITH: The Two Gentlemen of Verona. [London: Printed for P.C., 1664]. Folio (8-1/2 by 12-3/4 inches), period-style three-quarter calf gilt, red morocco spine labels, marbled boards; 19 leaves. $6200.
The complete text of Shakespeare's last play, The Tempest, and of The Two Gentlemen of Verona, from the rare and important Third Folio, on 19 original leaves. Handsomely bound.
The four folios of Shakespeare are the first four editions of Shakespeare's collected plays. These were the only collected editions printed in the 17th century (a 1619 attempt at a collected edition in quarto form was never completed). The 1664 second issue of the Third Folio (from which this play was taken), is the first to include Pericles (along with six other spurious plays) and is therefore the first complete edition of Shakespeare's plays. The Third Folio is believed to be the scarcest of the four great 17th-century folio editions, a large part of the edition presumed destroyed in the Great London Fire of 1666. "The folios are incomparably the most important work in the English language" (W.A. Jackson, Pforzheimer Catalogue).
Leaves A1 to D1 contain The Tempest and The Two Gentlemen of Verona. The Tempest was written sometime around 1610-11, and is most probably Shakespeare's last play and certainly one of his best. Featuring such well-known characters as Prospero, Miranda, Ariel and Caliban, The Tempest, with it's plot device of a shipwreck on a remote island, is often thought to be based in part on William Strachey's account of the shipwreck of the Sea Venture on Bermuda while en route to Virginia in 1609; the setting and the character of Caliban (a near-anagram for "cannibal") has reignited interest in the play in recent years as demonstrating Shakespeare's awareness of and commentary on the early stages of European colonialism. The Two Gentlemen of Verona is now thought of as the first play Shakespeare wrote, sometime around 1590-91, and shows the Bard's work at the very beginning of his career, displaying a comedic interest in love and friendship. The facsimile title page and frontispiece reproduce these pages of the second issue of the Third Folio, bearing the date 1664 in the imprint rather than 1663. See STC 22274; Jaggard, 496.
All leaves show some edge-trimming and light wear, particularly the first four leaves which have had margins restored, possibly from fire or smoke damage. Some leaves with minor archival repairs; first two leaves with just a few letters in lower corner supplied in neat pen-and-ink facsimile, from catchword on rectos and beginnings of one or two lines of text on versos, with jusrt a few words affacting readability. Binding fine and attractive.